The Lobos will head into their Thanksgiving tournament undefeated, as they’ll host Wichita State, Illinois and UC Irvine throughout the weekend, while hoping to keep their impressive streak alive.
For UNM (4-0), they are coming off of two great weeks, which saw them win all four of their games, with only one of those wins coming against a lesser school in Northern New Mexico.
The Lobos’ other three wins, however, have been hard-fought, well-earned battles, beating the likes of a high-ranked Marquette team, a gritty Western Michigan team and the always tough in-state rival New Mexico State.
UNM’s undefeated streak, though, has been due in part to the team they bring onto the court. Senior guard Cherise Beynon and junior post Jaisa Nunn have led the way so far, with both players winning Mountain West Player of the Week in back-to-back succession.
Beynon, who leads the Lobos in points per game at 18.8, has reeled off a couple of impressive performances against Western Michigan — where she had a near triple-double — and against New Mexico State, a game she scored a game-high 27 points and reeled in nine assists as well as seven rebounds.
Though the senior guard — and leader — has been unquestionably one of the best Lobos on the floor this season, Nunn has been impressive.
Nunn, who stands a stout 6-feet-2-inches tall, is second in scoring per game, as she’s averaging a solid 17.8.
But Nunn, one of the Lobos’ few true posts, has been playing a big part on the glass, too. So far this season, she’s averaging 9.5 rebounds per game — a team-high.
Just one game ago, when UNM hosted the Aggies, Nunn brought down 12 rebounds, and against Marquette she had 13.
As a team, though, the Lobos are bringing down a healthy average of 45 rebounds down per game, while holding their opponents to 43.2.
Other than that, UNM has shot 35.2 percent from range and 43.1 percent from the field as a whole.
Senior guard Tesha Buck has put up a steady stream of 3s in the Lobos’ four games this season, shooting 23 of them and making 10 — which is 10 more attempts and four made away from the next best in that category.
Wichita State: Friday, 7 p.m.
UNM will open up tournament play against Wichita State (0-4) Friday.
The Shockers, who have won no games this season in four contests, are led by senior forward Rangie Bessard, whose averaging a team-high 15 points per game in four starts and a team-high 9.3 rebounds per game.
The only other double digit scorer for the Shockers is the other senior forward, Angiee Tompkins, who is averaging 10.8.
As a team, Wichita State is averaging 58 points per game, while their opponents are averaging 71 against them.
UC Irvine: Saturday, 2:30 p.m.
On Saturday, when the Lobos play UC Irvine (2-2), they will play a team that has already seen two Mountain West opponents this year in Utah State and UNLV. Against Utah State, UC Irvine won 87-84, and against UNLV, they fell in Las Vegas, 73-54.
A steady stream of scoring is more apparent when it comes to UC Irvine, as the team’s top five scorers are averaging between eight and nine points.
They’re led by freshman forward Jordan Sanders, who is averaging 9.0 points per game. She’s also averaging 4.5 rebounds per game, which is third behind sophomore guard Yazzy Sa’Dullah (4.8) and freshman forward Tahlia Garza (6.5).
UC Irvine is shooting 38.5 percent from the field, while their opponents are making 44.6 percent of their shots.
Illinois: Sunday, 2:30 p.m.
Rounding out the round robin tournament this weekend, though, is Big Ten opponent Illinois (3-2).
Illinois is also, of the three visiting teams, to have a record above .500. entering the tournament, though that could change depending on this weekend.
As a team, Illinois is shooting 40.9 percent from the field, and they are led by junior forward Alex Wittinger, who is scoring 14.8 points per game and averaging 10.2 rebounds per game — both team-highs.
Illinois also poses another palatable scorer in sophomore guard Brandi Beasley, who is averaging 11.6 points per game.
This weekend can prove to be a big one for the Lobos, if they can keep up their defensive intensity and steady stream of scoring throughout three straight games in three straight days.
Matthew Narvaiz is a senior sports reporter for the Daily Lobo. He primarily covers men’s and women’s basketball and baseball. He can be contacted at email@example.com or on Twitter @matt_narvaiz.